The Essence of Devotion
यत् प्राप्य न किञ्चिद् वाञ्छति न शोचति न द्वेष्टि न रमते नोत्साही भवति ॥
yat prāpya na kiñcid vāñchati na śocati na dveṣṭi na ramate notsāhī bhavati ॥
"After attaining devotion, a devotee does not desire anything. He does not grieve or hate, nor does he delight in anything material, and he does not want to do anything else." ( Narad Bhakti Sutra, 5)
In the modern age, people do not understand the real essence of devotion. We tend to consider everything from the perspective of worldly desire. In simple terms, when we are completely absorbed in “I”, there is no place left for “you”. Every time we pray and ask the Lord for something material in return, our “I” sense becomes very strong, therefore every effort should be made to remove this “I” first.
When we are self-centred, the Lord becomes secondary to our ego. This is a major problem, because the ego separates us from him. It builds a boundary around us, making us selfish, and we have no desire to share what we have with anyone. When we are absorbed in ourselves, we cannot relate to the feelings or the needs of others. But a genuine attempt in devotional practice removes ego from our lives.
This is not easy to put into practice, but it becomes easier if we develop a deep yearning for Krishn and understand our true identity as Krishn’s eternal servant. A sincere search for the Lord will bring relief from all pain and unhappiness. We should not assume that as spiritual aspirants, we will not suffer any problems in life. We may feel that because we are pursuing the Lord, he should remove all obstacles from our spiritual path.
The Lord can certainly do this, but if he did, we would not develop the strength needed to walk on this path of devotion. A muscle is made stronger by use alone. An inactive arm, hanging lifelessly to one side, becomes weak and withered. If a person wants to build his weak muscles, he has to use them regularly. Similarly, we need to practice devotion and use our inactive muscles of faith, compassion, dedication and patience to strengthen all these undeveloped qualities in ourselves. Without this dedicated practice, we will not change and overcome our human weaknesses and limitations.
In the Bhagwad Gita (12.17), Krishn states, “One who neither rejoices nor hates, who neither grieves nor yearns, who renounces both sin and piety and who has devotion for me, is dear to me.” Sage Narad points to the same Bhagwad Gita verse in this sutra. Here, Krishn is revealing the qualities of the devotees whom he dearly loves. When we attain devotion, our hearts will not crave anything else. We will find complete contentment and satisfaction in the Lord. Then only one prayer will remain for us: that we may never again be fooled by this material world.